Namibia: Teacher Assaulted in Front of Pupils

A brother of a pupil at Dawid Bezuidenhout High School in Windhoek was arrested last week after he allegedly assaulted a teacher at the school while pupils watched.

The Grade 8 science teacher, who has only been identified as 'Matengu', was allegedly punched last Thursday on the school premises, in front of his pupils.

Police spokesperson, deputy commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi, confirmed the incident on Tuesday, and said the suspect was made to pay an admission of guilt fine of N$500, and released.

The suspect went to the school on Thursday morning after hearing that Matengu had slapped his brother and two other pupils in his class. He allegedly attacked Matengu in front of the pupils.

"The teacher opened a case of common assault at the Katutura Police Station. The accused paid an admission of guilt fine of N$500," Kanguatjivi explained, adding that the case has been closed. Matengu did not respond to calls and messages send to him yesterday.

One of Matengu's pupils, who asked to remain anonymous, said she witnessed the incident.

"When we entered the classroom, he [the pupil] found a sketch of a penis drawn by an unknown pupil on his chair, so [he] decided he did not want to sit [on the chair] and pushed it away," she narrated.

A group of boys in the class saw the drawing on the chair, and engaged in disorderly scenes.

The teacher was extremely riled by the unruly behaviour of the pupils when he walked into the class, and threatened not to teach.

"We suggested that he [the teacher] should only punish those who were making noise, not the whole class. That's when he decided to slap the boys," she said.

"He slapped the guy who moved the chair, and went on to slap two other pupils. He almost slapped a fourth one, but he [the fourth pupil] denied having disrupted the class, so the teacher left him," she continued. She said during break-time, a brother of one of the pupils' came to the school, and assaulted the teacher.

"Later that day, school authorities held a meeting, where Matengu explained what happened, and that he had been punched by one of the pupil's brothers," she added.

She further claimed that the teacher is sometimes verbally abusive towards pupils and their parents.

In a Facebook post, believed to have been put up by Matengu last week, the teacher said he feared for his safety, and is now considering changing professions.

"This profession is not safe anymore. I keep thinking what if he had come with a weapon, I could have been shot or stabbed," he said. The authenticity of this Facebook post could, however, not be verified. The principal of Dawid Bezuidenhout High School, Wilbard Mbeeli, declined to comment.

This is not an isolated case of assault at the school. Pupils told The Namibian last week that a Grade 8 pupil was also punched twice and slapped by his maths teacher last Wednesday.

The Namibian has been unable to confirm if that pupil reported the matter to authorities. Education executive director Sanet Steenkamp said she was not aware of the case. She, however, condemned the behaviour of the teacher and that of the assailant.

"Policies that the education ministry have put in place are very clear that any form of violence in the workplace and in schools is uncalled for and unacceptable," she stressed.

She added that a grievance procedure will follow, and a case should be opened against the teacher, which will be handled by the regional office.

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